Duterte OKs ‘unimpeded’ rice importation, says Roque
President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized the “unimpeded” rice importation in the country to lower the prices of the staple food.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte lifted the restrictions on rice importation after the “fierce and animated” discussion during the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday.
“The President approved unimpeded importation of rice as a measure to reduce inflation, after a presentation from Sec. Dominguez that food items are now primarily responsible for an even increased inflation rate for the last month,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
“The President ordered the unimpeded importation of rice. He wants to flood the market with rice so that even if the price of crude and other prices of oil should go up still further, that the people will have access to affordable rice,” he added.
The Palace official said the lifting of restrictions would allow big private companies to import rice.
“Wala na pong restrictions ngayon, basta magbayad lang ng taripa, at gagamitin natin ang taripa para sa mga Pilipinong magsasaka ng bigas,” he said.
(There are no restrictions now, just as long as they pay the tariff and they use the tariff for the Filipino rice farmers.)
“Inaasahan po natin na (We are hoping that) with this kind of order, even giant Filipino companies like San Miguel Corporation, which was specifically mentioned in the Cabinet meeting yesterday, will now be able to import rice and that this increase in supply of rice will result in overall lowering of prices,” he added.
Roque said the rice importation was “a very hot issue.”
“It was very animated and we were one of three who had very strong views about the need of controlling inflation through increasing the supply of rice in the country,” Roque said.
Asked if templers flared, Roque said, “Close…I don’t think it was a shouting match. I think it was just people being assertive about their views.”
After listening to the insight of the Cabinet members, Duterte approved to “liberalize” rice importation.
“It was highlighted that minimum access volume is minimum. There was no maximum and that’s why the decision to liberalize for all intents and purposes the importation of rice was really the ultimate means by which to rein in inflation as far as food items are concerned,” he said. /je
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